Booker bill would legalize marijuana at federal level

Posted: Updated:
WASHINGTON -

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker says he's introducing legislation to legalize marijuana at the federal level.

Booker announced his measure Tuesday in a Facebook Live video.

He says the legislation is needed to because the federal marijuana prohibition unfairly affects poor and minority citizens, who he says are subject to arrest at greater rates than wealthier and white people.

The Marijuana Justice Act, as Booker is calling his bill, would not only legalize the drug, but it would also allow people serving time for marijuana-related offenses to be re-sentenced and automatically expunge federal marijuana use and possession crimes.

The bill goes one step further and would use federal funds to encourage states to loosen marijuana laws as well.

The legislation comes in the face of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' stiff opposition to the drug. Sessions has said he wants to crack down on the drug even as a growing number of states legalize it.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana.

In New Jersey the Democratic front-runner for governor, Phil Murphy, supports legalization. Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno says she backs decriminalization.

The Associated Press news wire service contributed to this report.

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